(This can also be sung to the melody “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”)
O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death’s dark shadow put to flight.
Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel!
As we enter back into Isaiah’s Book of Emmanuel, we hear that in the future, the Lord will send a great light into northern Israel (Isaiah 9:1-2). Have you ever wondered why Jesus began his public ministry in the northern region of Galilee and not in Jerusalem? It’s not accidental that Christ first brings his light to the place his people originally descended into darkness in salvation history (the Northern Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722 BC). Matthew confirms this connection (Matthew 4:13-16). John’s father Zechariah represents the longing of his people for this coming light. In his Benedictus he looks with expectation for “when the day shall dawn upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79). Imagine the growing joy that Mary and Joseph must have had as they neared the time that this Light would shine forth.
This is only where the light begins. Like the expanding dawn, Christ will declare “I am the light of the whole world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12; see also John 12:46). On Easter morning, Christ will rise in the light of the Resurrection, banishing the darkness of death that had enveloped the world.
While in Galilee, Christ goes beyond simply proclaiming himself the light and says to his followers “YOU are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). Once we receive the light of faith, we extend its reach into our circles of influence. Pope Francis puts it well, “Each of us comes to the light because of love, and each of us is called to love in order to remain in the light” (Lumen Fidei, para. 32).
Consider some simple ways you can show the light of Christ’s love to strangers and family alike this season. It can be something as simple as creating a blessing bag filled with toiletries and warm gloves you can share with a homeless person or the gift of a candle to remind someone of Christ’s light. Most importantly, it’s when we share our faith that Christ’s light shines most brightly for others.
As you sit quietly before the Lord, use your imagination to feel the Light of Christ wash over your heart and soul. Let it penetrate the dark corners of your heart and those places in your soul you haven’t welcomed the healing light of Christ.
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